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Rockin’ the fashion: Local designer’s trunk show to benefit Goshen’s Institute for Musical Arts

  • SARAH GANZHORN<br/>Fashions created by designer Jean Gobillot of Shelburne Falls, left, will be featured in a trunk show Saturday to benefit the Institute for the Musical Arts in Goshen. IMA co-founder Ann Hackler, right, helped organize the event.

    SARAH GANZHORN
    Fashions created by designer Jean Gobillot of Shelburne Falls, left, will be featured in a trunk show Saturday to benefit the Institute for the Musical Arts in Goshen. IMA co-founder Ann Hackler, right, helped organize the event. Purchase photo reprints »

  • SARAH GANZHORN<br/>After years working for another designer, Gobillot says, she's excited to get her own work out there.

    SARAH GANZHORN
    After years working for another designer, Gobillot says, she's excited to get her own work out there. Purchase photo reprints »

  • SARAH GANZHORN<br/>Fashion designer Jean Gobillot of Shelburne Falls models a jacket she created in her home studio. Gobillot will show her work in a trunk show at the Institute for the Musical Arts on Nov. 2.

    SARAH GANZHORN
    Fashion designer Jean Gobillot of Shelburne Falls models a jacket she created in her home studio. Gobillot will show her work in a trunk show at the Institute for the Musical Arts on Nov. 2. Purchase photo reprints »

  • SARAH GANZHORN<br/>Fashion designer Jean Gobillot sits in her home studio in Shelburne Falls with a jacket she created. Gobillot will show her work in a trunk show at the Institute for the Musical Arts on Nov. 2.

    SARAH GANZHORN
    Fashion designer Jean Gobillot sits in her home studio in Shelburne Falls with a jacket she created. Gobillot will show her work in a trunk show at the Institute for the Musical Arts on Nov. 2. Purchase photo reprints »

  • SARAH GANZHORN<br/>Fashions created by designer Jean Gobillot of Shelburne Falls, left, will be featured in a trunk show Saturday to benefit the Institute for the Musical Arts in Goshen. IMA co-founder Ann Hackler, right, helped organize the event.
  • SARAH GANZHORN<br/>After years working for another designer, Gobillot says, she's excited to get her own work out there.
  • SARAH GANZHORN<br/>Fashion designer Jean Gobillot of Shelburne Falls models a jacket she created in her home studio. Gobillot will show her work in a trunk show at the Institute for the Musical Arts on Nov. 2.
  • SARAH GANZHORN<br/>Fashion designer Jean Gobillot sits in her home studio in Shelburne Falls with a jacket she created. Gobillot will show her work in a trunk show at the Institute for the Musical Arts on Nov. 2.

“If you ever feel too old to do a thing, do it.” That’s a quote Shelburne Falls fashion designer Jean Gobillot once saw in a fortune cookie, and she took it to heart. Now she’s applying it to her new fashion-design business, GoBeo Designs, and her first-ever trunk show.

The event that takes place Nov. 2 will benefit the Institute for the Musical Arts (IMA) in Goshen, a non-profit organization founded in California in 1986 by Ann Hackler and June Millington. The organization moved in 2001 to Goshen, where it supports women and girls interested in entering the music industry.

“It’s such a boys town,” Hackler said of the music industry.

Gobillot, 53, has spent the past 14 years working for another local designer, but after contributing to someone else’s vision for a long period of time, she says, she wanted to branch out and create her own designs.

“I kind of hit the wall,” she said. Even so, she was nervous about not having the structure of a regular job. “I was afraid to not have the paycheck. ... It is a little crazy to be completely starting my own thing.”

Gobillot says she abandoned that fear last summer, when she and three friends hiked 800 miles across France’s pilgrimage trails.

One night, when she was staying at a French monastery, she couldn’t sleep, so decided to hike to a grotto dedicated to Mary Magdelene.

“I sat, and I got real quiet, and I realized that, you know, it was time to just do something,” she said.

One of Gobillot’s main sources of encouragement in her new venture has been the IMA’s Hackler. The two have been friends for nearly a decade, and both have lived in the Shelburne/Buckland area since 2001. Hackler’s straightforward, “just do it,” philosophy has been helpful, Gobillot says. “Any time you want the truth you go to Ann.”

Getting started

With the support of Hackler and others, Gobillot began designing for herself in her home studio. Her aim: to create clothing that gives people confidence.

There is a range of clothing types within her work. Some are artistic and formal, like “museum pieces,” while others are casual and simple. Many of Gobillot’s designs are influenced by her own personal style, though she often creates custom pieces for clients based on their personal tastes.

“I’m really much more of a tomboy then I am a fashion icon,” she said. It’s a style that’s befitting of her active lifestyle; she’s an avid fly-fisher and a karate instructor. “I like things that are comfortable,” she said.

Gobillot works with mostly natural fabrics, and with a range of colors, though she has a personal color preference: “I love muddy, earthy colors, that’s just mine, but I make all kinds of stuff outside of that,” she said.

She doesn’t pay much attention to fashion trends, she says, and though she admires the world of haute couture, she says, she does not see herself as a high-fashion designer.

“You probably wouldn’t see me on the runway with Commes des Garcons.”

The minimalist-chic personal styles of actresses Katherine Hepburn and Audrey Hepburn have inspired Gobillot, and she cites the simplicity of mid-20th century fashion as influential to her work.

“If you looked at a rack of (mid-century clothes) on the street, you wouldn’t think ‘razzle-dazzle,” she said. “I’m not into a lot of fluff and ruffles.” Gobillot sometimes uses thrift shop finds in her work. “I like the idea of using what’s around,” she said.

Range of body types

In particular, she says, she thinks the mainstream fashion industry’s emphasis on slender models can take its toll on the confidence of women and girls.

“I think it sets this bar for young women — ‘If I don’t look like that, I don’t deserve to be heard or seen,’ ” she said.

The models in Gobillot’s trunk show will represent a range of ages from the late 30s to 70, and diverse body types. That, she says, is more important to her than creating pieces for people who look perfect in clothes.

Hackler praises Gobillot’s creation of clothes that are flattering for women of different age groups. Hackler, 57, cites the difficulty in finding flattering clothes that fit her personal style as she’s gotten older.

“My whole body type changed,” she said. “I needed something that was that style, that ‘Hepburn’ style, but that would still look good on me.”

Making sure all women feel like they have visibility and a voice is important to Hackler, and is a large part of the work that the Institute for the Musical Arts does.

IMA programs

The IMA offers workshops and weekend retreats throughout the year, as well as concerts. However, the main focus is on educational, residential summer programs for young women and girls ages 9 to 24, where they learn about writing and performing music in courses like “Rock ‘N’ Roll Performance.” IMA also educates women and girls in music production, which is facilitated in the IMA’s recording studio.

Prior to the economic downturn in 2008, IMA hosted students from all over the country, and international students. Now the majority of them come from western Massachusetts.

“Which actually turned out to be a good thing because they stay connected and they form bands.” Hackler said. “If they all come from different places, they don’t have that opportunity.”

The proceeds from the trunk show will go toward the summer program’s scholarship fund. Nearly all of the young women and girls who attend the IMA’s summer programs receive some form of monetary aid, Hackler says.

“We have never turned down anyone due to a lack of funds, so we rely on benefits and private donors to help make up the difference.”

In preparation for Nov. 2, Hackler and other women who work with the IMA have been helping Gobillot develop her brand as a designer. Hackler and other IMA workers are used to hosting public events, which has been helpful for Gobillot.

“That’s the kind of stuff that I stumble on,” she said.

The trunk show will include a preview of the clothing, information about the IMA, and a fashion show. All the clothing has been created for the women modeling in the show, and vary in style, from formal dresses and coats to a simple gardening smock. The neophyte designer says its both exciting and educational to see her creations for the first time on the models.

“Its fun working with the different women because I’m getting a better sense of how clothes hang,” she said.

Gobillot says she’s grateful for the support she’s received from Hackler, and likens it to being a young women immersed in the creative world of the IMA.

“I feel like I’m one of her kids now,” she said.

The trunk show will be held Saturday in the Big Barn at the IMA. There will be a preview at 4 p.m., and the show begins at 5.

Light refreshments will be served. For more information, visit www.ima.org/concerts.

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